Day 60: Baking a cake.

Work:

Observed Anahit use a confocal laser scanning microscope to scan a whole mount of retinal tissue. She is trying to show that myelination occurs only in the optic nerve, and stops before the optic nerve reaches the retina. This is important for retinal function. It was SO cool. The results are beautiful. They look sort of like this, only the entire tissue overview.

2007_confocal_winner

Worked with Hartwig today on completing part of the PCR project. Basically, yesterday and today were my training sessions. In the future I should be able to do it all on my own. I cannot express how grateful I am to Hartwig for giving me the opportunity to work on something on my own. To learn something and master something. To show that I am good at what I do. I keep saying thank you to him. I really cannot say it enough. Today, after I had told him thank you for the hundredth time he replied with “my pleasure!” Seriously, such a great guy. 🙂

After work I went to Kaufland! Return of my favorite store ever. And, it is set up in the exact same way as the store in Radolfzell- only there is even more stuff. Thank goodness! I was able to find everything I needed to bake my pound cake. (Strangely enough, they keep the cocoa by the nutella instead of with the baking goods.)

On the way home from Kaufland there was a drunk old man who kept yelling at everyone- “The grass in green!” “Does the bus go to the HBF!?” “Why haven’t you stopped at the HBF yet!?” “The bus driver is a *&^%!!” Needless to say, quite a pleasant man.

So, a little back story to why I am even attempting to bake a pound cake. The people in my lab LOVE cake. They bake cakes all the time. I think that I have eaten 6 cakes (maybe even more!) since I got here. We were talking one day about cakes from our countries. I brought up pound cake. They had never heard of it, so I decided that I wanted to make one for them all. Because a) they love cakes and b) what a great way to say thank you to them. So I had my mother send me the recipe.

I then began to work at converting all of the measurements to g and mL, and the temperatures to Celsius. I then had to figure out substitutions for ingredients that they don’t have here- Crisco, vanilla extract, self rising flour… I also had to borrow a cake pan from Eli. No one even knew what a bundt cake pan was, but Eli had one that looked like this (see below) and it seemed like it would work well enough. Natalia lent me some measuring cups and a thing to store the cake in.

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Keep in mind that I am not a baker. I might even go so far as to say I hate to bake. But these people love cake and have been good to me. So I am baking them a cake, darn it!

So, I got home this evening and set about baking my cake. All went according to plan. I had to guess a little on measurements because the measuring cups Natalia had went in giant intervals (i.e. 100 g), so my measurements of 334 g of flour weren’t exact. But at the end the batter looked like it was supposed to look. And it tasted good too! I also had to guess a bit on the temperature of the oven, because again, there were marks in huge intervals on the dial. Lots of guess work for someone who had no idea what they were doing. But I was pretty confident in how my batter had turned out.

I then poured the batter in the pan. But I forgot to grease the pan. So I poured it all back out, washed the pan, greased the pan, and poured the batter back in. Ugh.

Then while I waited for the cake to bake I cooked my dinner (schnupfnudlen and sauteed veggies) and did the dishes. I am really going to miss schnupfnudeln when I get back to the States!

Then came the big moment to take my cake out of the oven. It looked really good!

But…. when I went to take it out of the pan, things got a little messy. It wouldn’t come out. So I ran a knife along the edges. But the cake was so dense that part of it fell/broke before I got around to the other side. Also a lot of it stuck in the pan. And I managed to burn my finger in the process. 😦 Here is the cake cooling and all the pieces that came off. Oops.

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Then when I took the cake off of my make-shift cooling rack to put it on the cake stand, I realized that the cooling rack and left deep indentations in the cake.

So it isn’t the prettiest cake ever. (Though I have decided that perhaps the accidental indentations could maybe look pretty?) I tasted some of the broken bits, and it tastes pretty good. A little bit spongy. And it tastes a bit like caramel on the edges where I greased the pan (though again, not necessarily bad, right?).

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But considering I have never made this cake before, I don’t ever bake in general, and I had to use different ingredients, and guessimate all of my measurements….I think it was a pretty successful cake! 🙂

I was planning on letting the cake sit for a couple of days before taking it to work (because I am of the opinion that pound cake is infinitely better on the second or third day), but I think because it turned out a little wonky I am going to take it in tomorrow. Not sure I want to risk seeing what happens to the cake after two days! Also, Tina (one of the coordinators of our WISP program) is coming to visit my work tomorrow, so the cake will be a nice thing to be able to have for her as well.

Proud of my cake and slightly tired from the sheer amount of cooking!

Also, my room smells like chocolate cake now. 🙂

Tschus!

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